‘Trans people not safe under Tories’ as UK Government in embarrassing double u-turn over conversion therapy ban

The government was forced to row back amid fierce criticism from Tory MPs and LGBT organizations over the decision to ditch a planned ban on the practice which campaigners state is “abuse”.

Sources later said that it would be included in May’s Queen’s Speech but would cover just “gay conversion, not trans”, prompting a fresh backlash.

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The SNP/Green coalition in Holyrood has committed to a ban on conversion therapy should the UK Government not go ahead with its plans and included the pledge in their manifestos.

The UK Government performed an embarrassing u-turn in the space of a few hours over conversion therapy bans last night.

The backlash followed the leak of a Downing Street briefing paper seen by ITV News which said “the PM has agreed we should not move forward with legislation” to outlaw the practice.

A UK Government spokesman had confirmed that they were looking instead at ways of preventing it through existing law and “other non-legislative measures”.

However within hours of the announcement, a senior Government source was quoted as saying legislation would be included in the Queen’s Speech in May.

The Prime Minister was said to have “changed his mind” after seeing the reaction to the earlier announcement, and that the legislation would cover “only gay conversion therapy, not trans”.

The “U-turn on the U-turn” came just a day after Equalities Minister Mike Freer had assured MPs that the Government was “wholly committed” to legislation.

However the briefing paper said neither he nor Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is also Equalities Minister, had been told of the decision not to go ahead, and that Mr Freer could now resign.

“While Liz is not ideologically committed to the legislation, she is likely to be concerned about owning the new position, having personally committed to delivering the Bill,” it said.

Scottish Green equalities spokesperson, Maggie Chapman, said the Tories are the “antithesis of equality” that cannot be hidden by “flip-flopping from a disgraced Prime Minister”.

She said: “The fact the Prime Minister, in his bumbling, explicitly excluded trans people from any crackdown on conversion practices is an absolute disgrace when trans people are even more likely to experience such abuse from their own family than other LGBTQI+ people.

“In Scotland, luckily, we have cross party support for a full ban on traumatising and degrading conversion practices, and with Greens in government we will get it done.”

LGBT charities in Scotland also attacked the double u-turn by the UK Government, with the Equality Network labeling it “appalling” and stating “trans people are not safe under this UK Government”.

On Twitter, it added: “What a shambles! This is appalling, and confirms that the UK Government cares nothing for trans people, and is continuing to drive LGBT equality backwards.

“The UK Government can forget any idea of ​​dividing LGB and T people – we are not safe unless all of us are safe.

“The research indicates that trans people are more at risk of encountering conversion practices than LGB people, and the consequences are just as appalling whether targeted at LGB or trans people. Often causing life-long harm, and literally destroying people’s lives and happiness.”

Want to hear more from The Scotsman’s politics team? Check out the latest episode of our political podcast, The Steamie.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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